One tonne wicker Beltie takes centre stage at Royal Highland Showcase

Despite the continuing shadow of coronavirus restrictions, events at Ingliston near Edinburgh this week are proving the old adage that "the show must go on".

For the Royal Highland Showcase, that means bringing the spirit, sounds and competition of Scotland's biggest agricultural event into people's homes via live streams from the eerily quiet showground next to Edinburgh Airport.

Without the hundreds of thousands who’d normally be here, there is a very different feel to the event but nonetheless it has a feel which is distinctly Dumfries & Galloway flavoured, as the region takes its turned as the revolving "host".

This year's show will be streamed live online. Credit: ITV Border

"It's been two years in the planning and it feels fantastic to see this showcase happening. Our region is reflected in all kinds of different ways around the show ground and right across the live streams so it's great to show off our region, which we are terribly proud of," Fiona Armstrong tells me. Normally on the opening day, she'd have had around twenty different duties to carry out, this week it's considerably fewer.

Taking pride of place in front of the site's new pavilion is a bold, one tonne wicker Belted Galloway bull crafted by Auchencairn's Trevor Leat. He's the man behind the structures which used to go up in flames at the Wickerman Festival and this latest creation is every bit their equal.

Credit: ITV Border

With all the competitions, chef demonstrations and more being streamed across the world it’s a completely different show for the animal breeders too. Normally there's a sort of pilgrimage from across Dumfries and Galloway to Ingliston, with hotels and B&Bs booked up weeks in advance and plenty of partying alongside the hotly contested classes. This year though, farmers have to come in and out of the show in a day. For a few Galloway competitors that meant leaving farms at 4am this morning. Despite that early start, Kate Smith from Low Arkland near Rhonsehouse is beaming when I speak to her as she's just picked up a win with her pedigree sheep. "Everybody's really happy to be back out showing again. There are still lots of wee farms and a lot of folks haven't seen anybody really, (through the pandemic) they need to get out and see people other than their cows and sheep!"

Also competing this week are sisters Daisy and Mollie Keiley from Haugh of Urr who are showing pedigree Belted Galloway cattle. When we spoke with them on Lookaround as they prepared for the event they were hoping to knock the name of their granny, Anne Bell, off some trophies as she's been a long-time champion breeder. With big smiles, they tell me they've managed to beat her in a few classes, although their granny insists she's still the family champion with a twinkle in her eye. She's very, very, proud of the way the girls are taking on her love of the Belties.

Credit: ITV Border

Wandering around the vast, near empty site, there are splashes of Dumfries and Galloway colour everywhere, from floral displays by the Dumfries Veterans' Garden to a stunning new mural commissioned by a Langholm’s Outpost Arts.

The mural was commissioned by a Langholm’s Outpost Arts. Credit: ITV Border

Hopefully, that at least will remain once visitors can return next year, as a lasting reminder of a memorable week for Dumfries and Galloway in this most unusual of shows.